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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

June 3 to July 10, 2020

Fishing Under PAUSE

You can still go fishing under the Governor's PAUSE Executive Order. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that you please act safely when fishing. Do not crowd access sites. If you arrive at an angler access area that is congested, consider finding another area that is less crowded or consider fishing another day. When you're on the water, please make sure there is ample room between you and your fellow anglers. Don't share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. Providing ample distance helps to reduce the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19 and also contributes to an overall better angling experience. When boating and fishing, DEC and State Parks recommend New Yorkers to #RecreateLocal, avoid busy waters and follow the guidelines for Recreating Safely and Responsibly in New York State.

Lake Erie & Tributaries

In a nutshell, west is currently a better bet for walleye. Although there have still been some slower days in the more productive areas. Walleye fishing has recently been quite tough for most anglers out of Buffalo. Anglers drifting or slow trolling (0.8-1.2 mph) and bottom bouncing with worm harnesses in 40-55 feet of water have done best, averaging about 2-3 walleye per boat. At those depths, you will need 4 to 6-ounce sinkers to effectively stay near/at the bottom. From Sturgeon Point to west of Cattaraugus Creek, anglers are catching fair numbers in 50-60 feet of water on lures run around mid-column. West of Dunkirk has been a bright spot with trollers doing well in 55-65 feet of water. Renosky stickbaits have been productive when run between 30 feet down and the bottom. Trollers out of Barcelona are picking up modest numbers of walleye in 50-60 feet of water on gear run between 20 feet down and the bottom.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been relatively slow, but there have been some better reports in 25-35 feet of water. The key is to find rocky bottom structure such as reefs, rock piles and drop-offs. Ned rigs, jigs with swimbaits, tube jigs, live minnows and crayfish are good bass offerings.

Lower Niagara River

Moss is present at a tolerable level. Fishing on the lower river is now for a mix of warmwater species, with smallmouth bass as the top target. Bass are available from Whirlpool State Park to the Niagara Bar, with the best bets along the Devils Hole shoreline, NYPA platform, lower drifts and on the Niagara Bar. Target smallmouth bass by drifting and jigging or bottom bouncing with live shiners, crayfish, tubes and ned rigs, or by casting towards shore with jerkbaits, stickbaits and spinners. NYPA fishing facilities including the fishing pier at the base of the power plant opened for the season on June 22nd, from dawn to dusk. Note that the pier may be closed during inclement weather or during high water levels. For updates call NYPA at 716-286-6662. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River

Lake Ontario & Tributaries, Harbors & Piers

Trollers have been covering a lot of water, from 100-400 feet plus. From reports, it looks like depths of 200-300 feet of water is a good starting point. At those depths anglers have been catching king salmon and steelhead with some lake trout mixed in. Large spoons and meat rigs run 85-100 feet down have been productive. Near Oak Orchard, the better fishing for a mix of king salmon and trout has been in 100-180 feet of water on gear run 60-100 feet down. For more instructional information visit the Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon page. There are a variety of warmwater species available at Olcott Harbor, Fishermans Park on Eighteenmile Creek and Wilson Harbor.

DEC Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit requests angler assistance with a Lake Ontario Fish Diet Study and Coho Salmon Head Collection.

Chautauqua Lake

Anglers continue to see good walleye action on the outside of weed edges in the north basin. Trolling or bottom bouncing with worm harnesses, and casting jigs has been productive. Anglers are catching walleye both night and day, but the bite can turn off at times of higher boat traffic. Muskellunge are also showing along weedlines. Target musky by casting large 6 to 8-inch stickbaits and jerkbaits along weedlines or casting and retrieving over the top edges of weed beds. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

The inland trout streams have lower flows and elevated temperatures in the afternoon. Playing trout in warm water can be lethal to the fish. On hot days, it is recommended that anglers limit outings to the cooler, early hours of the day. There are no significant fly hatches happening now. Fly anglers can see surface action on terrestrial patterns such as ants, foam beetles and hoppers. Fish terrestrials on a dead drift, giving a slight twitch every now and again to imitate a struggling insect. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Trout Streams and Stocked Lakes and Ponds to choose from. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

Spring stockings for all of western New York's trout stocking waters has been completed. For complete lists of waterbodies with number of trout stocked, see the Spring Trout Stocking (2020) page.

Genesee River Angler Diarists Needed

The New York State DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office will be running an angler diary program on the Genesee River in Allegany and Wyoming Counties from March 1st through October 31st, 2020. This program will cover the river from the PA line downstream through Letchworth State Park and will record data for both trout and bass fishing trips. If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to keep a diary for DEC please call the Region 9 Fisheries Office at (716) 379-6379 or e-mail at This diary program will be used to evaluate the quality of the fishery and determine future management actions.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.